Devotional: Choose to Follow

You Are Called to Lead! So Choose to Follow!

Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” Matthew 4:19

Spiritual leadership begins with an invitation from our Lord. He does not coerce us. He has called his disciples to follow. It is a calling that requires a response. He invites us to choose.

Jesus was walking along the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee one day. He was 30 years old. At age 30 the religious customs indicated that rabbis were ready to begin their time of teaching and could have disciples. The gospels seem to suggest that Jesus had no disciples prior to that time.

A short time before, Jesus had shown up at the Jordan River (probably a little south of Jericho). His cousin John was preaching there and calling people to repentance. When John saw Jesus approaching, he paused and proclaimed, “Behold the lamb of God”!

The Father’s voice resounded across the heavens, “This is my son, listen to him!” Then Jesus disappeared into the harsh Judean Wilderness, where his preparation continued and the evil one tempted him to set aside the Father’s mission and replace it with self-interest.

Matthew tells us that Jesus left the Jordan and spent forty days in the wilderness. Matthew then places Jesus in Nazareth, mentioning that he left there to relocate to Capernaum. At a minimum, the journey to Nazareth was a 5-7 day hike. The gospels do not tell us how much time he spent in Nazareth before the Capernaum move, but we can guess it was more likely a couple of weeks than several months.

Capernaum is a harbor town situated on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. It is also next to the thoroughfare, the Via Maris. Jesus’ ministry was strategically positioned to reach the world!

Matthew 4 records a morning walk along the shore. Having been on Capernaum’s shore in the morning, I can imagine the sunrise over the mountain ridge to the east as Jesus approaches two families of fishermen. The teenage boys were cleaning the nets after a night on the lake as apprentices to their fathers in the family business.

From Google images

The first boat belongs to Jonas. His sons are Peter and Andrew. Jesus calls, “Come! Follow Me!”

Farther along the shore is the boat of Zebedee. His sons are James and John. Jesus calls, “Come! Follow Me!”

During the next three years of ministry, Jesus gave the same invitation to many. The invitation was not restricted to the chosen people, to males, or to religious leaders.

The invitation was given to fishermen (Peter, Andrew, James, John), to despised tax collectors (Matthew Levi, Zaccheus), to Zealot terrorists (Simon the Zealot), to skeptics (Nathaniel – can anything good come from Nazareth), to doubting cynics (Thomas), to wealthy and influential women (Joanna wife of Cuza), to an adulteress (the woman about to be stoned), to the unclean and shunned (lepers, a bleeding woman), to a synagogue administrator (Jairus), to Pharisee leaders of the Sanhedrin (Nicodemus, Joseph), to Romans (a centurion), to common folks (Mary and Martha), and to more. They answered the call to follow.

The invitation was given to others who heard, but did not listen; who did not choose to follow: chief priests, Sadducees, disciples who found the teaching too heard and left him, people in his hometown of Nazareth, and more. They were given the opportunity, but did not follow.

Jesus explains it this way. People have eyes, but some do not see. People have ears, but some do not hear. Not everyone responds to invitations in the same way. Because the invitation requires commitment and sacrifice, it can be inconvenient. It can seem too hard. It disrupts human plans. Some accept it; others do not.

So, what have you done with the invitation? It has been extended to each of us. It requires action! Have you chosen to be “all in” or are you content to be a curious spectator?

What have you done and what are you doing with his invitation? Choosing is both a decision and a continuous process. It is commitment and a daily recommitment. May you be blessed as you choose and follow him.

Devotionals are written by Jeff Blamer, Vice President of Member Services

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